Final Fantasy XIV's Coolest Feature Fits In Your Hands

Illustration for article titled emFinal Fantasy XIV/ems Coolest Feature Fits In Your Hands

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is a lovely game, but few would call it "innovative."

I've been playing the game on both PS4 and PC for the past several weeks and have been having a blast. But even a relative MMO lightweight like me can tell that the game isn't breaking much new ground. The gameplay feels more or less like other MMOs I've played and the visuals, while lovely, still have the too-clean look of a mid-2000s PC RPG.

But FFXIV does offer one feature that I love:

Illustration for article titled emFinal Fantasy XIV/ems Coolest Feature Fits In Your Hands

It lets me play with a controller.

When I first fired up FFXIV on the PS4, I had my doubts about how it would all work. Could an MMO, with all its various menus, combat styles, dialogue boxes, chat windows, hotbars, and other MMO accouterments, really work on a controller? And for the first hour or so, I'd have answered that with a firm "No."

I stuck with it, though, and within another hour of so found myself getting used to the various button prompts and commands, customizing my on-screen UI and text-sizes to be easily viewable from my couch, and generally getting my head around how the game works. I switched to the PC version and found that it worked even better—with my wireless keyboard on the couch next to me, I could easily type chat messages while still using a controller to play. (PS4 players can do this too, provided they plug a USB keyboard into their console. You can also play the PS4 version with a full mouse and keyboard—other than a less snappy frame rate, the PS4 version of FFXIV is basically indistinguishable from the PC version.)

I understand that the controller approach won't be for everyone. I'm a pretty casual MMO player and I don't do high-level raids or PvP stuff; I wouldn't want my character's controller-induced clumsiness to hurt the progress of a team of players. And I realize that it isn't the first MMO to support controllers, and that it is technically possible to play other MMOs with a controller by using X-padder to map controls to a gamepad manually. But most games don't feel as consciously designed for a controller as FFXIV is, and while there are plenty of controller-related things FFXIV could make work more smoothly, hopefully it's only a matter of time before another MMO-type game takes their groundwork and improves on it.


The upshot, for now, is that I'm generally a lot more likely to play FFXIV than I would've been had it been only playable on my desktop PC. I sit on the couch and play an MMO with a controller. And it is wonderful.

I'm curious about how many of you play the PC version of the game with a controller, and how many with a mouse and keyboard. I'm guessing it's far more the latter than the former, but let's find out how it breaks down. Poll time:

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I got a copy of the PS3 version of FFIV for free, and that controller setup gave me enough of a headache to outright buy the PC version, just to enjoy the freedom of a conventional keyboard/mouse control scheme (and much, much better graphics). I've downloaded the free update for the PS4 version and I might give it a shot, though. Maybe I'll stick with the controller this time.